Mary Anne here. It is with a full heart I pass along this recipe, given to me some years ago by my favorite cousin, Bob. Sadly, Bob is no longer around to dazzle us with his humor and culinary skills, but hopefully my readers will enjoy his chili legacy. He always recommended serving this dish alongside Silky Buttermilk Cornbread.
The following is a transcript of Bob’s words as he wrote the recipe for friends and family. The chili is as snappy as his wit:
“Warning!!!!! This chili is NOT for the faint of heart or the tender of palate. However, you can easily modify the heat.
This is a real hearty Texas-style chili, which has often been used by men in the Lone Star State to woo the favor of women. And many are the hearts of men who have been enslaved by the kind and loving hands of the women who concoct this special stew. Eat and enjoy, but beware the intentions of the chef.
Fact is: This recipe is a combination of the best of some of the world’s best chili recipes. The original provider, Harley Carnes from ABC radio, was lucky enough to attend several World Championship Chili Cook-offs in Terlinqua, Texas, and to wrangle out of the winners the secrets of their culinary marvels. From the best five recipes came this hybrid slightly modified by myself. So, I can claim no particular genius at chili making, only the good fortune to have obtained this receipt from Harley, who learned from some of the masters.”
Texas Beef Chili
Easily serves 10
A final note from Cousin Bob: “As you cook, it’s important to stir frequently and keep tasting. Then you can fine-tune it. However, about mid-way you may start thinking you need more pepper; do yourself a favor and wait an hour before adding any. The goal is a chili that allows the ingredients to retain their individual flavors while still blending to build a full, flavorful crescendo. Lotsa luck!”
My own note: I’m not overly fond of really spicy food, but I found the full use of spices and jalapeno did not make this too hot for my palate. The honey is a wonderful surprise and just whispers its presence in the stew. All in all, the best chili I’ve ever made or tasted, and it absolutely ripens with age. You can make this up to four days before and freeze whatever you want to save.
2 lbs. stew beef (or other meat of your choice; venison, bear, bison, armadillo) – $10.98
2 lbs. ground beef (very lean) – $9.98
Worcestershire Sauce – from stock
Soy Sauce – from stock
Teriyaki Sauce – $2.09
10 oz of your favorite barbecue sauce – around $3
2 tablespoons Honey – $3.99
A 28 oz. can of tomatoes – $1.89
1 small can of tomato sauce (I use a 15 oz. can) – $1.39
½ teaspoon salt – from stock
1 Tablespoon chili powder – from stock
1 Tablespoon cumin – from stock
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (try ½ tsp. first) – from stock
1 garlic clove, chopped and sautéed, or just crushed into the pot – from stock
1 ½ teaspoon black pepper – from stock
1 medium jalapeno (chopped fine – try ½ a jalapeno first) – $0.75
1 medium onion, diced – $0.50
15 mushrooms – $2.49
1 green bell pepper – $1.25
1 yellow bell pepper – $2.39
1 red bell pepper – $0.96
(1/4 cup of each of the above green, yellow, and red pepper, to taste)
¼ teaspoon oregano – from stock
¼ teaspoon paprika – from stock
Add kidney beans if desired; I use three cans (normal size), but the amount is up to you. – $3.57
Add 1 beer (water will do, but why!) – $0.84
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $46.07
Cost per Serving: $4.61
Cousin Bob’s Directions (verbatim):
1. Marinate the stew meat 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are ready to make the chili. First, cut the meat into bite-size pieces. The average chunk of stew beef can usually be cut into halves or thirds. Marinate in equal amounts of Teriyaki, Worcestershire, and soy sauces. Couple ounces of each, roughly. Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to cook. Add a little salt and pepper (not from list).
2. Now, the process. Put the tomatoes and tomato sauce in a large cooking pot over LOW HEAT, VERY LOW. Add (10) oz. of your favorite barbecue sauce. Pour in one beer. Any good brand will do. You can, of course, substitute 12 oz. of water for the beer.
3. Mix the salt, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, and black pepper in a cup or small bowl, and stir into the pot. You will now begin to make your kitchen smell like chili is about to happen.
4. Cut your bell peppers, all three, into chunks about 1/4-inch long by a 1/4-inch wide. Toss them into the pot along with the finely chopped jalapeno. They take the longest to cook.
5. Chop and dice the garlic and the onion (you can crush the garlic and just throw it in at this point), and sauté them (in a piece of butter, in a separate pan) until they are soft. INTO THE POT!! Slice the mushrooms, sauté them in butter. INTO THE POT!! You get the idea.
6. Now to the meat. Take your well-marinated stew beef and heat a frying pan really hot. Take a fistful at a time of the beef chunks and SEAR them in the hot pan for only a minute or two, and turn each piece so it browns on two sides. Toss it into the…au…pot. (By the way, a lot of juice will come out of the meat. Toss the juice into the pot along with the meat about half the time.)
7. When all the stew beef is seared and stirred into the pot, fry the ground beef; press out all the grease, and break it into chunks if you have not done so already. Into the pot.
8. Now, two final touches. Add a couple of tablespoons of honey. This will take some of the sting out of the heat. And if you want a smoky taste, you can take a good cigar, light it and let it burn down to just ashes. Crush the ashes to powder and mix them into the chili. No one will ever know they are there. One world champion confided that he won because no one could figure out how he got such a great smoky taste in his chili. He used a smuggled Cuban cigar. (Big, ugly stogie, it was.)
9. Cook for about 3 hours on the LOW, LOW heat. Stir and taste regularly. Keep a cold beer handy.